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Lawmakers taking second look at 'second chance law'

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Legislators want to take a second look at a new law passed this year that gives Indiana residents with nonviolent criminal histories a chance to limit public access to parts of their record.

The Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee met Thursday and discussed possible changes to the new law that the Indiana General Assembly passed in the final days of the 2011 session.

Known as the “second chance” law, House Enrolled Act 1211 allows individuals convicted of certain offenses that weren’t violent or sex crimes to request from the courts restricted access to arrest and criminal records after eight years. The new law is limited to misdemeanors and Class D felonies, and it only limits access rather than expunging a person’s record completely. The statute also allows for limited record access if the person wasn’t prosecuted, if the charges were dismissed or if the case resulted in acquittal.

But since the law took effect July 1, the legal community has been confused about how the changes should be implemented. Judges have delayed making decisions on those requests for closed access to arrest records until they received more direction, and prosecutors and defense attorneys have directed questions to lawmakers.

The Indiana Supreme Court’s Division of State Court Administration has received questions from trial judges and clerks about the logistics of restricting access to public records, according to court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan. She said the court has added a new chapter to the Administrative Manual about navigating this new statute, and the courts also developed and posted online a form that could be used by pro se litigants.

“Our goal is to give judges and clerks meaningful direction on how to make daily court operations run smoothly while following the law,” Dolan said.

At its most recent meeting on Thursday, the interim legislative panel discussed fixing the inconsistencies in the statute. Draft legislation is being finalized and likely will be discussed again at the next meeting Oct. 26, according to committee members.

Some discussion points at the meeting: Sen. Richard Bray, R-Martinsville, noted that felons could be admitted as lawyers in the state because they would not have to disclose their prior crimes that are sealed through this law. David Powell, recently appointed as the executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, said schools should be allowed to access these records when running criminal background checks on prospective employees.

Indiana Public Defender Council Executive Director Larry Landis said he supports the current law because its aim of shielding these records was a compromise in the larger debate about expunging the convictions altogether. But he agrees the law is inconsistent, and that’s what the draft legislation focuses on. Those revisions are intended to clarify what goes into a petition requesting this limited access and who should get notice of this petition and order once it’s filed, as well as what a court should order about who needs to comply with the restricted access. One aspect also involves making the petition itself confidential, Landis said.

“We wouldn’t be reopening discussion about any substantive policy issues, but just clarifying and making the law more specific on how it should be implemented,” he said.
 

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  • Second chance act
    This was a loosely defined law that was passed by legislators for wanting to look compassionate to a very vocal group. No more no less. Its amazing the people of this state pay to have its leaders not take this "dangerous" legislation to a completed thought. But what makes it more disturbing? Is they did this lackedaisical process with so much of the states residents safety and security at risk.
  • Second chance Felony law
    Is there forms online to fill out to if anybody's eligible for ?

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  1. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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